It’s not officially announced yet, but Hackerfarm is actually getting a second cafe. This cafe hasn’t been used in quite a while and rather than trying to run it as a cafe, we’ll be using it as a community center and events space where people in the community can host private gatherings.
To test out the concept, Jacinta, Adrian, and I opened up a private, popup whiskey bar…twice. It was a lot of fun and it’s something that we’ll probably do on a regular basis.
Here’s us three at the first whiskey bar in almost sub-zero weather.
One of the Hackerfarm cats, PDP-11, decided to join the bar festivities too. Both our cats know how to open the doors so PDP just let himself in and jumped on the table.
Jacinta and Adrian were having a spirited conversation about agriculture while PDP was wondering what I was doing.
Last night, Jacinta had the second trial of her whiskey popup bar. She brought out her single malt scotch collection and let us choose the scotches we wanted to try.
We ended up going with the Laphroaig, Ardbeg, and Bowmore. Jacinta then proceeded to tell us about the history of the whiskey, what she liked about it, and how we’ll be touring Scotland someday to visit all the whiskey distilleries. We also had general discussions on agriculture, our upcoming Mexico trip, and the meaning of life.
Adrian had a go at being behind the bar also and quite enjoyed being the barmaster. We’re thinking to pick up a bunch of tequila on our upcoming trip to Mexico and curate a tequila tasting night. He was explaining all the details about tequila that I never realized, like how it was made, how to properly drink it, what it can be used for, etc. I didn’t realize that me and most of my friends have been drinking tequila incorrectly our whole lives.
It’s really nice having a private whiskey bar and we’re thinking to open it up once a month to friends for whiskey tasting, smoked food, and good conversation.
The cafe is across the street from Hackerfarm and we’ll be opening it up as both a community space and as a co-working space where people can drop in for a cup of tea, work on design projects, listen to music, and then head over to the hackerspace to build things. We’ll be announcing it and other exciting developments soon 🙂
Autumn has come and the corn we planted earlier in August is finally ready to be picked. This is actually a special breed of corn, a traditional Mexican variety, and is non-sweet. The standard corn we find in Japan and also in the US is sweet corn which can be cooked and eaten (yum!). This variety is meant to be ground into corn flour which we’ll later be able to make tortillas out of. We also used this corn in our tamales which we made for our harvest party.
The story behind this harvest is actually quite interesting. Adrian actually had to go to a place in Narita, near the airport in Tokyo, where a seed specialist stockpiled a lot of different types of seeds. He had some traditional Mexican seeds for corn but wasn’t sure about giving them to us. Adrian would help out at his farm and kind of hint that he needed the seeds for the planting, but the message never got through. Finally, he asked directly if he could have the Mexican corn seeds. The guy smiled and handed him one cob of dried corn from that plant. From that cob, we were able to cultivate around 100 plants. The best corn cobs will be saved, dried, and kept for seeds for the next harvest.
The method of planting is also extremely interesting. We planted these using a milpa technique so we could grow the crops completely organically. The method of growing is called “three sisters” which is a companion planting of corn, beans, and squash. The beans and squash are planted at the base of the corn and wrap around the corn stalks as the corn grows. This strengthens the corn stalks and prevents them from falling in the event of strong winds or typhoons. The beans are also nitrogen fixers and provides much needed nitrogen to the corn so it can grow well. The squash has broad leaves that provides ground cover and prevents weeds from growing.
Growing these three together provides a balanced diet, keeps the soil fertile, and provides excellent harvests. This method of planting has been used throughout the Americas by the indigenous tribes and was the method of planting taught to the pilgrims from the Mayflower when they first landed on the continent. The bountiful harvest from this method of planting led to the first Thanksgiving which is the approximate time when you harvest these crops in North America. So for our harvest party, I called it our “little Thanksgiving” 🙂
When you hear specs online about wireless modules transmitting X number of kilometers, those specs are usually talking about transmitting under ideal conditions. In wireless terms, those ideal conditions would be something like transmitting from an antenna tower on top of a mountain to an antenna tower on the top of another mountain with a valley in between. In reality, most people including myself almost never have the luxury of coming anywhere close to those ideal conditions. When we decided to put up a wireless link from our farm to a nearby cafe, the same was true. There were very non-ideal conditions that we had to get around.
One of the areas of intense interest for me is agriculture technology which is also why I moved out to Hackerfarm in Japan. We have a project called FarmLab which focuses on experimental agriculture and agriculture technology. I’ll be running a wireless workshop tomorrow to teach other participants the basics of wireless and one of the tasks is to set up a wireless connection from FarmLab which is in the middle of a bunch of rice paddies to our cafe which is about a kilometer away. It’s not a difficult link, but there are a few obstacles such as a hill, a grove of trees, and a few walls to get to a data aggregator that can put us on the internet. Continue reading “Range Testing Non Ideal Terrain at FarmLab”
As part of the FarmLab project, we’ll be having a workshop taught by Yves Quemener on data visualization with python. He’ll be going over how to use numpy, matplotlib, and other python tools to implement the data scrubbing and visualization for the data we’ll be collecting at FarmLab. It will be at SDF Cafe and should last about two hours. Bring a laptop and an installed python environment. Contact us if you need help with any of it 🙂